The Other Girls, a short story

This is a literary excerpt by Joshua Myers, a novelist and writer based out of South Carolina whose work explores both the beauty and complexity of navigating life from the black and gay perspective.

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She wasn’t like the other girls in Mtendere. The “other girls” used to be her friends, but that was before she lost her father to the disease — the same disease that also robbed her of a mother, the chance to finish school, and her childhood. It was then that she decided she wasn’t like “the other girls” she grew up with. Or maybe they decided that for her. Didn’t matter; it wasn’t worth her time to wonder about that. She had responsibilities and hungry siblings that required her attention now.

Sure, it stung when the “other girls” laughed at her for being so dark. But she had neither the money nor care to buy makeup that was three shades too pale to pile on her face in unsuccessful attempts to lighten her appearance. Or when they teased her because she preferred head wraps over hair extensions. Because, at just 16, her arms and hands were stronger than most men’s. Because she struggled to make a living doing piece work instead of making easier money with her... womanhood. The same womanhood they teased her about keeping hidden under the old chitenge she wore around the village every day. But that, too, was okay; it was her mother’s chitenge. And someday it would be her daughter’s and she, too, wouldn’t be like all the “other girls.”

She finally got home and placed the basket of flowers, unsold leftovers from a long day at the market, on the dusty floor next to her younger sister. She watched her only sister, sprawled on the floor and still wearing her hand-me-down school uniform, do her homework. She smiled because her sister, too, would be different than the “other girls.” 🍒